Hard to believe I’ll be married a week from now, and it’s why Worth Reading will have a two-week hiatus. I’ll still be filing a few stories for Giant Bomb next week (including a big one about Darksiders) while preparing for the wedding that’s nearly planned, but the big day is on Friday, and I’ll be spending the week after in Hawaii.
(If you have any last-minute recommendations on things to do there, now’s the time to let me know!)
Instead, as I mentioned last week, I’ve been pushing forward in Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, and I finally saw the “twist.” The twist itself? Overrated but understandably noteworthy for the time period, and admittedly I still didn’t see it coming. Unfortunately, the twist did nothing to stop Stranger’s Wrath from quickly pivoting to a Rambo-style shoot out for the remainder of the game. Though combat is the focus of Stranger’s Wrath, it’s a combat that encourages tactical, strategic play with the creative ammo types, and that mostly goes out the window in the last few hours. Instead, it’s just blowing dudes up, and while I understand the tonal shift behind that move, it’s simply not very fun. Bummer.
So many games seem to fall prey to his problem, and I wonder why that is. Maybe I should interview some developers about that, eh?
See you guys in a few weeks!
Hey, You Should Play This
- CLOP (Browser, Free) by Bennett Foddy
If CLOP sounds familiar, it’s because it sounds awfully similar to QWOP, another game by torturous designer Bennet Foddy. QWOP tasked players with manipulating the thighs and calves of an Olympic athlete, an objective much more difficult than it sounds. There’s a reason the game warns you QWOP is not about winning or losing, and that’s a sentiment shared with CLOP, as well. CLOP is fundamentally similar to QWOP, except that players are now trying to move all four legs of a unicorn back and forth, in the hopes of reaching a fair maiden on the other side of the hill.
And You Should Read These
As someone who expects they’ll be writing about video games for some years to come, it’s difficult to imagine what that life will be like when I’m in my 30s and 40s, and how others around me will perceive that decision. There are very few games writers within that age range, especially ones that have stayed in games writing. Keith Stuart is one of them, though, and his piece brings me comfort. It’s not uncommon for games writers to explain their career decisions to non-games folk, and I can’t imagine that gets easier as you get older. As he rightly points out, it’s not a problem with critics in other fields, and as video games continue to become ingrained in our culture, it will cease being a worrying question mark.
I am aware, when I go on press trips now, that I am old enough to be the father of some of the other journalists I am with. I mean, that can’t be right. Increasingly often I reference games they never played, or that exist for them as dim childhood memories. I am ancient enough to remember playing games in black and white, on old Grandstand consoles; I played Pac-Man in a Blackpool arcade when it first arrived in Britain; I even remember when Sega was a serious force in the industry. That stuff makes me feel like Rutger Hauer as the majestic yet dying replicant in Bladerunner – I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. And I have, and they are part of me.
It’s still early enough in Kickstarter’s life that anything taking off generates headlines, but we’re also in the phase where pitches, especially ambitious ones like Ouya, are under intense scrutiny. Academic Ian Bogost has tried to re-frame the reasoning behind Kickstarter excitement, and one that might help explain why so many critics have trouble giving the thumbs up to so many projects on Kickstarter, yet players have no trouble opening up their wallets and saying “hell yes.” In short, Bogost believes individuals want to be one the ground floor of A Good Idea, and tell friends they were their first, and helped make it happen. That Kickstarter donations don’t usually require much money makes the impulse to be part of a potentially (potentially) market-changing idea all the more appealing.
Kickstarters are dreams, and that's their strength rather than their weakness. People back projects on Kickstarter to fund the development of a new creative work or a consumer product that might never see the light of day via traditional financing. But what if Kickstarter is more about the experience of kickstarting than it is about the finished products? When you fund something like OUYA, you're not pre-ordering a new console that will be made and marketed, you're buying a ticket on the ride, reserving a front-row seat to the process and endorsing an idea. It's a Like button attached to your wallet.
If You Click This, It Will Play
I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Look Neat
- Balance of the Planet is from Chris Crawford, a gaming legend you probably, sadly don't even know.
- The Other Brothers doesn't look like the best platformer ever, but there's an enjoyable charm to it.
- Gaymercon is a noble idea, and it's great they're underscoring how everyone is invited.
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Edge went back and pondered whether its most controversial reviews were actually wrong.
- The next game from the Dear Esther developers is about the Rapture? Sign me the eff up.
- The similarities between a video game and piloting a military drone are...disturbing.
- Here's your weekly reminder why Suda 51 is so interesting, even when he fails.
- The process of returning your work iPad may be more emotional than you think.
- This is a one-sided account of developing the newest Lumines game, but it's a fascinating one.
- Is it really possible we haven't heard from the designer of No Russian before? Now, we have.
- We've been waiting a while for Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and here's an interesting breakdown of its history.
- Learn how Mass Effect 2 actually turned someone into a gamer.
- In the midst of anti-Zynga sentiment, here's one perspective on why that may be off-base.
- Please let these quotes about photorealism being needed to achieve new game genres be out of context.
- If you want a better understanding about how GameStop does business, read this interview.